MK Motti Yogev (Jewish Home) said Thursday that he does not regret his statement Wednesday to Arutz Sheva, according to which "A D9 [bulldozer] shovel should be used against the High Court.”
The statement was made in reaction to the High Court order to demolish the Draynoff homes in Beit El, in the Binyamin region of Samaria, which was carried out hours after it was issued.
Yogev pointed to similar statements by leftists. "I know a professor who lectured about bulldozers that should level Ofra,” he said – referring to Prof. Ze'ev Sternhell – “and a retired judge, Mishael Heshin, who wanted to chop off arms, and Opposition Chairman Herzog who said a D9 should be taken to this government.”
Heshin once famously threatened, during public debates on curtailing the vast authorities of the Supreme Court, that “whoever raises his hand against the Supreme Court – I shall chop off his hand.”
Herzog made his statement in the Knesset Wednesday night, in response to Yogev's.
Yogev admitted he may have been wrong in failing to emphasize that he was speaking metaphorically when he mentioned the bulldozer – but said the important thing to discuss was the substance and not the style. “When I heard, this morning, the former president of the supreme court, Aharon Barak, saying that he pities me, even as he made false arguments about the land supposedly being private land that was stolen from an Arab – I respect him and I am trying not to pity him, but these things are not true,” Yogev said.
"If it had been private land that was stolen from an Arab, the Civil Administration would not have authorized it,” he explained, regarding the Draynoff structure. “There is no private person here, the most there is, maybe, is a village elder who gave a statement.”
The High Court should have sent the matter back to the District Court, he opined, where their arguments could have been heard and verified. “The high Court does not go out to the field, it does not hear the details, and therefore it is not the one that should discuss matters like these.”
Yogev said that he still views the High Court decision as “charlatanism and judicial dictatorship.” It is proper, he added, that the legislative branch try to balance out the judicial one. As for the statement by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked criticizing his wording – Yogev said that he respects her and she had no choice but to say what she did, since she is the justice minister.
He expressed hope that the Committee for Appointment of Judges, which now has enough nationalists in it to veto any Supreme Court appointment, could “make things right and create balance.”
Backlash at comments
Jewish Home party leader Naftali Bennett sought to distance himself from the remarks, telling Israel Radio Yogev should not have made the remark, and saying he had reprimanded the MK in a private conversation.
But other MKs responded far more furiously to the remarks, including Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud).
"Comments like those of MK Yogev have no place and I condemn them," Erdan said, claiming they amounted to incitement to violence. "There are people who could interpret them as legitimization of violence towards judges or police," he added.
MK Merav Michaeli, a senior MK in the left-wing Zionist Union party, went further still in her condemnation of the remarks, calling on Yogev to be dismissed as an MK and put on trial.
"Motti Yogev is not fitting to be a public elected official in Israel," she said. "Someone who calls to raze the Supreme Court with bulldozers needs to be suspended immediately from all his positions and stand trial for his serious incitement."
MK Issawi Frej of the far-left Meretz party also rushed to condemn Yogev.
"MK Motti Yogev reveals the true face of the Jewish Home party, as a party that wants to destroy not only the Supreme Court, but also democracy in Israel," he charged.
Frej challenged Bennett to fire Yogev, "otherwise it will be understood that Yogev's position is the position of the Jewish Home."
Fellow far-left MK Michal Rozin went further still, calling on the Attorney General to open criminal charges against Yogev. Rozin accused Yogev of "sedition" against the state with his comme